Back to previous

Chronic Pain & Decision Making

Chronic pain syndrome goes beyond physical discomfort. It can also affect a person’s ability to think and make decisions. Learn more in our blog.


As experienced chronic pain lawyers, we make a conscious effort to stay up-to-date with all the latest news relating to the condition, including studies and new-found research. Recently, a new study, conducted by the University of Arizona, has discovered that the pain caused by conditions, such as chronic pain syndrome, may have an impact on the way in which sufferers think and make decisions. The results of the study have opened our eyes further to how much of a negative impact chronic pain syndrome has on a patient and that more of a focus needs to be directed towards the detrimental consequences caused by chronic pain, in addition to the pain caused. In this blog, we discuss the topic in further detail and analyse the results of the study to understand exactly what they mean for sufferers. To find out more, continue reading.

In 2016, it was revealed that almost half of the adult population were living with chronic pain, with around 28 million UK adults being affected by some type of chronic pain in one way or another. This statistic shows just how prevalent the condition is. Typical symptoms of chronic pain syndrome include pain that consists of throbbing, burning, shooting, soreness, weakness and stiffness, as well as the side effects of pain, such as fatigue, a loss of appetite and mood changes.

For this particular study, researchers investigated how pain impacts cognitive flexibility (the ability for the brain to learn and understand new information), using rats as their test subjects. In order to provide a direct comparison between those with and without pain, two sets of rats were tested; one half with neuropathic pain and the other without.

Once the study had reached a conclusion, the researchers discovered that the set of rats that suffered with neuropathic pain were able to learn the basic task of pulling a designated lever to receive a food reward at the same rate as the ‘normal’ set of rats. This being said, however, the rats with neuropathic pain were much slower in comparison to adapt when the conditions changed, as a new lever was introduced.

Steven Cowen, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, believes the findings could provide insight into how pain can hinder cognitive flexibility in humans.

“If you are suffering from chronic pain, your ability to make good decisions or adapt to new information might be compromised,” he says.

“This might be an unforeseen consequence of chronic pain that hasn’t been studied enough. In the past, we have focused more on the immediate effect of just the pain itself, which is very important, but some of the more detrimental consequences may be in the poor decisions that are made.”

As this is a particularly recent study, further research will likely need to take place in order to explore this discovery in further detail. At Brian Barr Solicitors, we have a particular interest in learning and understanding new discoveries relating to chronic pain syndrome, therefore, will ensure to stay up-to-date on the latest findings; as chronic pain lawyers, we work closely with patients and, as a result, understand all too well how it can negatively impact people’s lives. To view our blog posts relating to chronic pain, click here. If you suffer with chronic pain syndrome as a result of an accident or injury that was not your fault, then you can claim for compensation by contacting our expert team of lawyers. To get started, call us today on 0161 737 9248 or fill in our online contact form here.

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

To start your claim

Get in touch

Request A Callback

To hear what our clients say about us

Visit our testimonials

Read more

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts